A SENIOR member of the Orange Order in Belfast has welcomed the proactive approach to alcohol law enforcement by the PSNI on the Twelfth.
Operating seven “alcohol seizure points” around the city during both the outward and return parades, police and Belfast City Council officials seized over 1,000 bottles and cans of drink.
County Grand Master of Belfast, Tom Haire, said on-street drinking was “not part of Orange culture” and he was happy to see the PSNI clamping down on the problem.
However, Mr Haire also said alcohol consumption was an issue that affected many other areas of society — not just Orange Order parades.
“The Grand Lodge has supported the police in the reduction of alcohol along the parade route and we do believe that the police are getting the message through that it’s not being tolerated,” he said.
“But while this is the report of what happened on the Twelfth of July in Belfast, it is fair to say it equally happens on St Patrick’s Day and other days.
“There is a drink culture with a lot of young people nowadays and it doesn’t matter who they are, or what side of the fence they’re on, I think one’s as bad as the other – and anything to reduce this we support.”
Mr Haire said this year’s Twelfth was a “great success as usual” and that the main focus should be on the great day out enjoyed by so many.
He added: “Given the huge number of people who were out watching the Twelfth parades you would have to say it’s a small proportion [drinking alcohol].”
In a statement released yesterday, the PSNI said: “Police remain committed to tackling the issue of consuming alcohol in public spaces – however, we recognise that this is a wider social problem, which we will continue to work with partners to address.
“Police working in partnership with Belfast City Council seized 1,152 items of alcohol across the city on July 12, 2012.
“Working on an average of 2.5 health units per item, this is approximated to 2,880 health units of alcohol.
“Over the last number of years, the PSNI has been working very closely with parade organisers and other partners to tackle drinking in public spaces and at public events.”
A number of alcohol seizure points on the Twelfth were located in the south of the city on main arterial routes including the Dublin Road, Lisburn Road and Royal Avenue.
Over the Twelfth and Thirteenth this year, PSNI officers “seized a further 241 items of alcohol as a result of 47 police interventions” in south and east Belfast.